Hendrick Motorsports takes the top spot in the NBC Power Rankings of NASCAR Cup teams heading into the season.
The four-car lineup narrowly beats out Team Penske, the organization that has won the last two Cup championships.
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There are several unknowns entering the season as driver lineups change and both Ford and Toyota debut new bodies. Past consistency will still serve as an indicator of which teams could be in championship contention.
NBC SPORTS NASCAR POWER RANKINGS
1. Hendrick Motorsports — Hendrick Motorsports continues to be the most consistent Cup team. Last season, William Byron and Kyle Larson both reached the Championship 4 after combining to win 10 races. Alex Bowman led the points early in the season before missing time with a back injury. Chase Elliott missed seven races but still posted the 12th-most top-10 finishes in the series (15). Now the full lineup returns healthy for the season as HMS tries to lead the series in wins for the fourth consecutive year.
2. Team Penske — Team Penske celebrated its second consecutive Cup title last season but missed some of the consistency from 2022. Austin Cindric missed the playoffs while Joey Logano only won one race and exited the playoffs after the first round. Ryan Blaney won three races and the championship. Team Penske still has work to do to get all three drivers into championship contention. Still, it’s hard to deny that the organization knows how to rise to the occasion when the title is on the line.
3. Joe Gibbs Racing — Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers made the playoffs last season. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell combined to win eight races. Truex won the regular-season title. Ty Gibbs missed the playoffs but won Rookie of the Year after finishing 18th in points. The expectation is that the JGR drivers will continue to win while moving to the new Toyota Camry XSE.
4. RFK Racing — RFK Racing has continued to improve since Brad Keselowski joined as a driver-owner in 2022. Chris Buescher went from one win in 2022 to three last season. He reached the Round of 8 in the playoffs. Keselowski went winless for the second consecutive season but still reached the Round of 12. RFK Racing has an opportunity to continue this trend with the move to the Dark Horse Ford Mustang.
5. 23XI Racing — Both Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick made the playoffs in a breakout season for 23XI Racing. Wallace reached the Round of 12, while Reddick reached the Round of 8 after winning two races. If the No. 23 and No. 45 teams can avoid mistakes, they should be in contention for wins once again after showcasing speed at a variety of tracks last season.
6. Trackhouse Racing — Last season was a bit of a letdown for Trackhouse Racing. Daniel Suarez missed the playoffs after making it in 2022 and Ross Chastain finished ninth in the standings after placing second in 2022. Chastain still won two more races while Shane van Gisbergen won in a one-off start. Chastain and Suarez have shown that they can win at the Cup level and they will both be back to lead one of NASCAR’s rising organizations.
7. Richard Childress Racing — Kyle Busch achieved success in his first season with RCR by winning three races but the No. 8 team struggled in the playoffs. Austin Dillon led the series with 10 DNFs and he finished 29th in points after receiving a 60-point penalty during the season. Short tracks will continue to be a question for RCR, but there will be optimism inside the organization. Busch is a two-time champion with 63 Cup wins, while Dillon has shown that he can win at the Cup level on intermediate tracks and superspeedways.
8. Stewart-Haas Racing — A championship-winning organization, Stewart-Haas Racing has struggled with consistency since the move to the Next Gen car. Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe combined for three wins in 2022 but all four of the team’s drivers went winless last season. SHR moves forward without Harvick and Aric Almirola. Briscoe (one career Cup win) and Ryan Preece return, while Josh Berry and Noah Gragson join the lineup. SHR has talented drivers and new Ford bodies. The question is whether this group can deliver better results than the first two seasons of the Next Gen era.
9. JTG Daugherty Racing — The one-car organization was a factor early in the season. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Daytona 500, his first win since 2017, and then matched his career-best mark of nine top-10 finishes. The situation changed during the playoffs. Stenhouse and the No. 47 team failed to advance beyond the first round while posting six finishes of 22nd or worse in 10 races. This season presents another opportunity for Stenhouse, who will once again work with crew chief Mike Kelley.
10. Front Row Motorsports — Front Row Motorsports returned to victory lane and the playoffs last season when Michael McDowell won the Indianapolis road course race. McDowell failed to advance beyond the first round but still finished a career-best 15th in points. Todd Gilliland posted four top-10 finishes while alternating between Front Row Motorsports and Rick Ware Racing.